Tuesday, February 20, 2024

“Took me a little bit of time to get used to holding the raquet” – Novak Djokovic admits initial struggle during Dubai win after 1 month off

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Making his return to professional tennis after his Australian Open triumph, Novak Djokovic revealed that he had trouble controlling his game during his victory in Dubai.

Playing in Dubai, the World No. 1 beat Tomas Machac, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(1) in the opening round of the Dubai Tennis Championships. The Serbian showed signs of initial struggle in getting a grip on his game as he shelled out 28 unforced errors, thus leading him to concede eight double faults. However, the 22-time Grand Slam winner put all concerns to bed as he kicked off his Dubai journey with a win.

Speaking to the press after his match, the 35-year-old thanked the fans for coming in numbers to extend their support for the Serbian tennis icon.

“First I have to say good evening and thank you for coming and making a great atmosphere tonight on the court for us, it was fantastic as it always is here in Dubai, definitely one of my favorite tournaments, favorite places, favorite cities to be playing Tennis,” Djokovic said.

The 10-time Australian Open winner also heaped praise on Machac and admitted that the Czech troubled him a bit, which was later handled well by the veteran.

“Well Thomas definitely didn’t play like 130 in the world today, he played a great tennis and he deserves a big round of applause. He was, giving me all kinds of trouble but I guess when it mattered I found another gear, so to say, and physically, you know, you can always be better and you know, I demand the highest of standards and levels, qualities of tennis and preparation that I can possibly get.”

Djokovic further spoke about how he struggled to get a grip on his game after returning to the court following his injury-laden Australian Open win. He also hoped to get back into his groove very soon so to improve his game.

“I did struggle with injury for several weeks and it took me a little bit of time to really get used to holding the raquet, you know, I haven’t played much tennis coming into Dubai, so I’m hoping, hoping that as the tournament progresses, I can, I can raise the level of tennis as well.”

“I’m flattered and thrilled to be amongst the biggest names that this sport has ever had in the history” – Novak Djokovic on breaking Steffi Graf’s record for most weeks by a tennis player as World No. 1

Dubai Duty Free Tennis - Day Ten
Dubai Duty Free Tennis – Day Ten

Novak Djokovic is currently on cloud nine, having won his 10th Australian Open title in January, equaling Rafael Nadal’s tally of 22 Grand Slams in the process. Adding another feather to his cap, the Serbian broke Steffi Graf’s record of most weeks as World No. 1 in the history of tennis.

By holding onto his top ranking in Monday’s ATP singles rankings, the Serbian veteran is now in his 378th week at the top of the rankings. Speaking in an on-court interview, Djokovic reflected on what this record meant to him.

“Well, it is very special, you know, as a young boy growing up in Serbia, I dreamed of two things, you know, winning Wimbledon and being number one in the world. So I’ve been blessed to, to achieve both of my childhood dreams several times and you know, I guess when that happened you have to set new goals, new ambitions and what can I say?”

Djokovic continued by being grateful for still being able to play tennis at the highest level. He also thanked his family and their efforts.

“I’m extremely grateful that I’m still able to play on this level after that many years. Obviously it’s a team effort. It’s a family effort, regardless of the fact that this is an individual sport and by myself on the court, but there’s a lot of hours that goes into preparing me to be able to perform on, on such a high level and I think also being able to endure this many years.

The 2022 Wimbledon Championship winner expressed his happiness and stated that he was “thrilled” to be in the same bracket as some of the all-time greats of the game.

“So I’m flattered and thrilled to be amongst the biggest names that this sport has ever had in the history, steffi graf being one of them,” Djokovic added.

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